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Unix Guru Evi Nemeth Missing, Feared Lost At Sea 156

14erCleaner writes "Retired Colorado professor Evi Nemeth has been missing between New Zealand and Australia since June 4, along with six others on their racing yacht. Nemeth, 73, is known as the primary author of the definitive Unix systems administration guide and for other works on Unix and Linux system administration and cryptography."
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Unix Guru Evi Nemeth Missing, Feared Lost At Sea

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @05:01PM (#44137337)

    find /ocean -name *evi*

  • Perhaps she's trying to actually read the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook (which, ironically, has a picture of an overburdened sailing ship on the cover... foreshadowing?).

    I'd probably be missing for a few weeks, too.

    All kidding aside, I hope for the best, and if the worst be the case, I hope she went smiling.

    • by Anonymous Coward


      What's really eerie is the coffin marked 'more' [amazon.com] right above her name.

      • Is that guy in the boat in the background flipping everyone else off? What's he, an Apple user?

        • Is that guy in the boat in the background flipping everyone else off? What's he, an Apple user?

          No, the Apple user is taking a crap on the desk. That guy is a VMS user.

    • All kidding aside, I hope for the best, and if the worst be the case, I hope she went smiling.

      She's laughing at us while sipping coffee with Jim Gray on some remote island.

      • Seriously, it makes me wonder if either: 1. this sort of thing (getting lost at sea) happens more often than we realize; or, 2) well known computer science types are more likely to have this happen to them.

        I hereby vow not to become famous in computer science and then go boating. Thus far, I'm solving this problem through not being famous.

    • by dshk ( 838175 )
      Looking at the book cover carefully, I believe she is actually depicted on it. Not on the forward big ship, but on the small ship going away in the background. She mentions in the book that this is the last edition for her, because nowdays she spend most of her time on a sailing ship where she only has a 30 (or 300?) baud radio connection.
  • Tragedy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @05:02PM (#44137349)

    That really sucks.
    I'm currently doing Systems Administration in Antarctica. I got my first professional network administration job in Boulder, around the time that the "Yellow book" came out (2nd Ed. of the "UNIX Systems Administration Handbook," Nemeth, Snyder, Hein, et al.). The book got me boostrapped for work in NeXT and SunOS administration. I've been to six continents, and have worked in IT for 20+ years. I owe a lot of my life's earnings and experiences to what I learned in Nemeth's texts.
    Godspeed, Evi.

    • Antarctica?!? Jeepers H Snowballs...guess you don't have to worry about the Servers overheating eh. Interestingly enough, Antarctica has about 5,000 people living there. Yeah it's a tragedy, I'd like to say that I hope they are found; but after all this time I fear the worst.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, at least next year's students don't need to worry about having to buy new versions of the college textbook . . .

      What, too soon?

    • by Fzz ( 153115 )
      Evi: desperately hoping you're in a life raft somewhere and will get to laugh your laugh at some of the kids posting here today. A great big IETF hug to you, wherever you are.
  • Lost (Score:5, Funny)

    by lorinc ( 2470890 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @05:03PM (#44137357) Homepage Journal

    When working on Unix systems, it is easy to get lost at C. Let's hope she'll hack her way to the coast.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      When working on Unix systems, it is easy to get lost at C.

      Casts in C are indeed dangerous. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @05:08PM (#44137395) Homepage Journal

    a 3-hour tour

  • So her and Jim Gray [wikipedia.org]?

    WTF, Computer Science?

  • by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @06:03PM (#44137909)
    The last time I was in her office (which was many years ago) I noticed the sign on her desk:

    Don't postpone joy.

    She didn't. From the gusto with which she threw herself into her work to the whimsy that led her to recycle a jet fighter's cockpit canopy as a window in her improvised mountain home, she never hesitated to find a smile or a laugh.

    So if we've lost her -- and I hope we haven't -- then we've not only lost someone who's been the mentor to an entire generation of system admins, we've lost a unique, wonderful, fascinating person.

    p.s. I'm well aware that there are co-authors of those books. I'm equally well aware that Evi did the heavy lifting.
    • by dshk ( 838175 )
      I am usually a developer, but I have spent most of my time with system administration for the last half year. Whenever I have a new task in an unknown area, I always start with reading the relevant chapter from her book. I usually read a few other, unrelated sections too. As I have read this sad post, her book was actually lying next to me, open on page 938.
  • Oh-no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rainer_d ( 115765 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @06:15PM (#44138041) Homepage
    I didn't understand much of Unix before I read her book. But then I got my hands on the (then already ancient) 1st edition of the Unix System Administration Handbook - and it felt like a fog being lifted.

    And I admit, I also thought she was a guy. She probably has baskets full of letters and emails with "Dear Mr Nemeth, ...".

    Evi Nemeth, we owe you!

  • by SteveWoz ( 152247 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @06:27PM (#44138175) Homepage

    Evi has been my closest contact at CU over the years. She was always a good friend and administered the scholarship I set up there. I am very sad but hoping to hear good news from my NZ friends. Evi was a very important person when it comes to Unix and Internet routing.

    • I read "UNIX System Administration" cover to cover in preperation for my first big job interview, and it helped me land the job (and jump from Appalachia to Silicon Valley). I owe her (and her co-authors) for many years of employment and adventures. I hope she and her sailing companions are found safe and sound.

  • I read the first three words and I was like "aaah" but yes, sad story. Hopefully she turns up alive somewhere, she has written some great books.

  • Linux System Administrator Guide put together by her among other people has been one of my favourite books during my teen years, and I learned quite a lot from it. Well written, funny in places, and explains how to do things really well.
  • by AndroSyn ( 89960 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @10:46PM (#44139699) Homepage

    I just googled a bit for further information about the ship and came across a rather interesting thread: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f121/schooner-nina-merged-3-threads-105498.html [cruisersforum.com]

    It appears the ship is equipped with an EPIRB that hasn't been activated apparently. Perhaps they really are just offcourse and not lost.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      EPIRBS on sailboats can be somewhat problematic. The idea is that if the boat sinks, the EPIRB detaches and floats off, starts beeping and squealing and hopefully survivors are in the immediate vicinity. In a sailing vessel it's easy for the thing to get caught in the rigging and dragged down. They don't work if they are underwater.

      And if the boat capsizes rapidly (unusual in a bigger sailboat) and the EPIRB can get trapped.

      But hopefully they just lost their antennas and are OK.

      • by AndroSyn ( 89960 )

        It also seems that there is two classes of EPIRBS, the class I activates automatically and the class II which is a manual activated device. If it was a class II device and they went down in a hurry there might not have been time to activate it either. I have no clue which type of device they had onboard.

        If anything, it is certainly is a reminder that the ocean is still a very dangerous place.

    • Good thread. If someone Evi loved and respected were lost at sea, she might want to help organize a crowdsourced search and rescue effort [oplopanax.ca] like the one used in search of Jim Gray, Tyler Wright and Steve Fosset. What we need is data. As someone who has sailed for decades, I won't underestimate the scope of the effort. VHF radio doesn't reach much beyond the horizon and a mast of a ship that size wouldn't be seen or return a RADAR reflection more than about 7 miles under ideal conditions. So if EPIRB, HF and S
      • Posted on the cruisers forum: [cruisersforum.com]

        Current from Australia Maritime Safety Information current at 300000 UTC JUN 13 Issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) Part 1. Distress, Urgency, CQ and Safety Messages: PAN PAN FM RCC AUSTRALIA 260143Z JUN 2013 AUSSAR 2013/4000 TASMAN SEA RCC AUSTRALIA REQUESTS INFORMATION REGARDING SIGHTINGS OR COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE WHITE AND GREEN 60FT SCHOONER RIGGED VESESL 'NINA'. THE VESSEL HAS 7 POB, AND WAS ON A VOYAGE FROM OPU

        • I just noticed the date of the Pan-Pan alert. I wonder if the standard for PanPan broadcasts is Zulu time or local time and if so, what locale? Anyway by midnight June 4th Z [wisc.edu], the storm was right over them and then sending them south should have reduced their time in the storm but it would have risked giving them a fierce headwind and driving them back to New Zealand if they were disabled.
        • Thanks for the cruisers forum link, learned a lot there. The very first search seems to have been ENE of NZ, then they went north and west assuming progress towards Oz, now looking back at NZ, apparently under the assumption she's been dismasted or otherwise disabled. The boat was fitted with a new engine in Opua, and the engine was only run in for 30 minutes before they departed, so a loss of electricity seems a logical assumption from the lack of communication.

          SARS have *not* called off the search. W

          • Too many years in sciences, I read Nina's last known position as decimal. I think the alert was in DD-MM so -33 Degrees, 50 minutes and 169 degrees 41 minutes which is -33.8333 169.68333. It also isn't as far south as in that photobucket image I posted earlier, but is very near the center of this MODIS image for June 4th. [nasa.gov] If you go to this website you can zoom in and out and change the date and be amazed at how rapidly this low forms a circular storm and moves east leaving a whispy trail of high-wind clouds
  • [previous post was accidentally anonymous]

    I started CU at the tail end of Evi's career when she was, as she put it, "on sabbatical buying a boat." In five years in the classroom, I only got to hear one guest lecture from her. Yet through the passing interactions and from the smiles of respect every student gave her, I could tell Evi was a great person.

    I remember an open meeting about improving things in the CS department. At one point, we decided to have a students-only brainstorming session for a while.

  • Hopes are down (Score:5, Informative)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @04:12AM (#44140723) Homepage Journal
    I was in a NATO Navy for some years, and have seen more than one scenario like this one unfold. Although there definitely may be some individuals clinging on to a lifeboat for dear life, I would consider the Nina lost. Not implausible for such racing yacht in the roughness of the Tasman Sea in ( local ) winter. Reports mentioned rough seas of up to 8 meters. I guess in the front(s) the Nina has had to endure, gusts could have easily gone over 80 knots. Under such conditions, a racing yacht as low on the water as the Nina can go down in a matter of minutes... The Aussies and especially the Kiwi CG are doing all they can, but the Tasman Sea measures about 2,380,000 square miles... At this point, anything less than a miracle is to be ruled out, and any miracle highly unlikely. Rest to their souls.
  • Personally, I think he's being optimistic.

    I would *like* to be optimistic.

    - - -
    The father of an 18-year-old on board the missing American schooner Nina believes it may be just days from making port in Australia.

    Ricky Wright's daughter, Danielle Wright, is one of seven people on board the 84-year-old wooden vessel, which was on its way to Australia from Opua in the Bay of Islands.

    The crew have not been heard from since June 4, when Nina was about 370 nautical miles west-northwest New Zealand.

    Mr Wright told n

VMS must die!